Discuss explanations of institutional aggression

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  • Created by: KCharlish
  • Created on: 25-02-16 21:38

One explanation for institutional aggression is the importation model. Irwin and Cressey claim that, in prisons, inmates bring with them their own social histories and traits which influences their adaption to the prison. Prisoners may be coming from subcultures where violence and aggression is something that is valued, respected and therefore reinforced with such attitudes then being imported into the prison setting.

 Gang membership has been consistently related to violence. Allender and Marcell found that gang members disproportionately engage in acts of prison violence and pre – prison gang membership appears to be an important determinant of prison misconduct. Also, Huff found that gang members in the US were 10 times more likely to commit a murder and three times more likely to assault someone in public than non gang members. This is an example of how social histories of prisoners influence their behaviour within prison.

There is research support for the importation model. Harer and Steffensmeier collected data from 58 US prisons and found that black inmates had higher rates of violent behaviour yet lower rates of alcohol and drug related misconduct than white inmates, also reflecting racial differences within US society. This therefore supports the importation model in suggesting such personality traits are imported into the prison settings.

Another explanation for institutional aggression is the deprivation model. This model proposes that aggression by prisoners or patients is the product of the stressful and oppressive conditions of the situation itself and the ‘deprivation’ they face within the setting. For example, overcrowding, physical conditions of heat and noise, and a lack of meaningful activity. Crowding, for example, is said to increase fear and frustration levels, leading to increased aggression.

There is research support for the deprivation


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